The Emery Hotel, located in downtown Minneapolis within the historic Midland Bank building, boasts a unique vision for its space. Beyond the conventional, the ownership’s ambition was to rejuvenate and enrich this historical structure with copious natural light and greenery. Their goal was to craft an urban oasis with a biophilic design that would not only elevate the guest experience but also enhance well-being and health.

Client: The Emery Hotel in Minneapolis, Minn.
Challenge: Provide energy-efficient natural lighting deep into a dark lobby that receives no direct natural light to create a biophilic connection.
Results: Natural light delivered with Solatube daylighting systems creates a thriving, tropical oasis in the heart of Minneapolis.
Product: 14 SkyVault M74 DS units with Collectors and Amplifiers
Solatube Installer: Design Speciality Products
Architect: McCaren Designs

Hotel Emery Downtown Minneapolis Biophilic Design by Solatube International - Sheet3
©Solatube International


This ambitious project encountered a formidable challenge: how to infuse direct natural light into a building nestled amidst parking ramps and towering structures while also capturing the sun’s rays at low angles during the winter months. The design team grappled with the task of devising a strategy to harness and channel enough sunlight deep into the building, ensuring the vitality of the planted greenery and fulfilling the ownership’s dream of creating a verdant sanctuary in the heart of the city.


To guarantee an adequate influx of daylight, the landscape architect harnessed the power of Solatube’s proprietary Design Calculator. This tool helped them determine the requisite number of Solatube Daylighting Systems and the amount of natural light they would introduce into the space. Fourteen Solatube SkyVault M74 DS units were strategically deployed to capture sunlight from the rooftop and convey it deep into the historic bank lobby, irrespective of whether it was a sunny or overcast day. Additionally, the SkyVault Collector and Amplifier extensions were incorporated to optimize the delivery of daylight to the lobby floor. These innovations, incorporating Raybender HD, LightTracker and INFRAREDuction technologies, maximized the delivery of daylight by intercepting and redirecting low-angle light downward into the system. Moreover, they minimized solar heat gain by thwarting the intrusion of heat-carrying infrared rays. The cone-shaped SkyVault Amplifier, with its 36 highly reflective facets crafted from the exclusive Spectralight® Infinity material, skillfully reoriented daylight to the plane where it was needed most, enhancing optical efficiency by converting previously inefficiently delivered light into usable illumination.

Hotel Emery Downtown Minneapolis Biophilic Design by Solatube International - Sheet4
©Solatube International


The implementation of Solatube Daylighting Systems yielded impressive outcomes. It delivered uniform light levels and fostered vigorous plant growth, resulting in a dreamlike, lush and welcoming naturally lit space that beckoned people to live and work within its confines. Additionally, the Solatube Daylighting Systems seamlessly blended with the transformed design of The Emery, seamlessly integrating into the ceiling and accentuating the bank’s original features, such as its marble and granite elements. This produced an environment that was not only aesthetically pleasing but also unique, leaving a lasting impression on guests long after their departure.

Pat O’Neal, Design Speciality Products, succinctly summarized their success: “Our goal was achieved, which enabled the plants to be planted, accomplishing the ownership’s dream of creating an oasis in the middle of the city.”

Hotel Emery Downtown Minneapolis Biophilic Design by Solatube International - Sheet5
©Solatube International

Kelly Snyder, General Manager of The Emery Hotel, was equally astounded by the transformation: “It was a world of difference. I never thought the Solatube units would bring in that much light. It is amazing.”


Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.